It was the first weekend of fishing season, and I was taking my family to my favorite fishing spot. I stopped at a gas station to fill up, and one of my best friends, Lenny, pulled in beside me. I could tell by the gear in the back of his truck that he, too, was heading out to soak some worms.

“Hey, Lenny!” I yelled. “Looks like your heading out fishing.”

“Of course,” he replied. “I was supposed to work today, but I couldn’t let the first day of fishing season go by. After all, a bad day fishing beats a good day at work.”

I laughed. I loved to fish, but I wasn’t as hooked on it as Lenny was. As we started to fill our gas tanks, we watched a motor home about the size of Rhode Island pull in beside us. A man stepped out to fill his tank. He was dressed in camouflage fatigues with a hat on his head that was full of all sorts of fancy, tied flies. He was ready to seriously hunt down some fish. He listened as Lenny and I continued to visit. When we finished filling out tanks, he came over to talk to us while his hose continued to drain half of the U.S. oil reserves into his vehicle.

“Gentlemen,” he said, “I can tell by your dress and manner of speech that you are fishermen. And it looks to me as if you are natives to this area. I would, therefore, be much obliged if you could point me to some of that blue ribbon fishing that I hear abounds in this vicinity.”

Lenny looked at me, and I could tell by the look on his face that he was thinking, “Who let Shakespeare out of England?”, but he didn’t say it. Instead, he turned to the gentleman and smiled.

“Sure, I can give you directions. Go across the bridge, through the stoplight, and four more blocks north. Turn left there, and head west, going about three miles. Don’t take any curves, but keep going straight until you get to the stop sign. Take a right, and go exactly ten and a half miles. You will find a dirt road there to your left. Take that and go six miles, and you’re there.”

The man thanked him, finished filling his tank, and was soon on his way. After he left, I turned to Lenny. “You gave him directions out into the middle of the desert. Are you sure there’s even any water there?”

“Of course not,” Lenny said. “I wouldn’t tell my best friend my secret fishing spots, let alone a stranger.”

Almost immediately, some teenagers approached and asked us where they could go fishing. “Go to the stop light and turn left,” Lenny said. “Follow the main road curving left, then right, and you will immediately find some ponds on your left right near the cemetery.”

The young men thanked him and left.

“Lenny, didn’t you just give them directions to the town’s septic ponds?” I asked

“So, maybe they will catch some carp,” he snickered.

“Carp?” I questioned. “There is no carp there.”

“Well, okay. I could have gotten the a and the r switched,” he retorted.

“That wasn’t very nice,” I said.

“Well, there is no way I would tell a complete stranger where I go fishing,” he replied.

“You would tell me, though, right?” I asked.

“Sure,” he answered. “You go to the stop light and turn left. Follow the main road curving left, then right and you will find yourself at some ponds by a…”

“Okay, I got the picture,” I replied. “I don’t plan to fish in the septic ponds.”

“So where do you fish?” he asked.

“Well, you go through the stop light and four blocks north. You take a left and go about three miles, not taking any curves but going until you hit a stop sign. Go exactly ten and a half…”

Lenny laughed. “Point well taken.”

And so we left for our own favorite fishing spots, each of us being careful to make sure we weren’t being followed.


(Daris Howard, award-winning, syndicated columnist, playwright, and author, can be contacted at [email protected]“>[email protected]; or visit his website)